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Conservation alliance asks for public support to prevent American billionaire destructing Coul Links for golf course

Dune slacks in summer with meadowsweet, tufted vetch and other moisture loving plants (Alison Searl/RSPB Scotland)
Dune slacks in summer with meadowsweet, tufted vetch and other moisture loving plants (Alison Searl/RSPB Scotland)

 A coalition of Scotland’s leading conservation charities is asking the public to support their objections to The Highland Council on the proposed destruction of Coul Links.

The Scottish Wildlife Trust, RSPB Scotland, Buglife Scotland, Plantlife Scotland, Butterfly Conservation Scotland and the Marine Conservation Society are campaigning against an application to construct a golf course that has been submitted to Highland Council on behalf of Mike Keiser, a billionaire American investor.

Coul Links hosts a dune ecosystem of national and international importance and is protected by multiple conservation designations.

Foredune in summer with kidney vetch, marram and other drought tolerant plants (Andrew Weston)

It is home to a wide range of plants, birds, insects and other animals.

Many of these species such as curlew, whinchat, and Fonseca’s seed fly, unique to this part of Sutherland, are rare or in severe decline elsewhere in the UK and are unlikely to remain following damage to the dune environment.

Ringed plover (RSPB Images)

Davie Black of Plantlife said the golf course plans would herald a ‘disaster’.

He said: “The proposed destruction of Coul Links, one of Scotland’s last remaining coastal dune systems, would be a disaster and must be wholeheartedly opposed by all those who care about nature and heritage.

Looking across Coul Links in spring with the mounded form of ancient sand dunes in the left and centre of view (Andrew Weston)

“The fragmentation of the dune environment which would occur if development is permitted would further imperil rare plants such as sea centuary, purple milk-vetch, moonwort and frog orchid and the insects and other animals and birds that they support. It is essential for nature that Coul Links remains undisturbed.”

Jonathan Hughes, Chief Executive of the Scottish Wildlife Trust and a former local resident said: “Coul Links is a truly exceptional stretch of wild, unspoilt coast, valued for its natural beauty by locals and visitors alike.

Coul Links in winter when the dune slacks are flooded providing important habitat for over-wintering birds (Credit: Alison Searl/RSPB Scotland)

“It seems extraordinary that this internationally important dune system is under threat from yet another golf course proposal and it’s vital we protect it for future generations to enjoy.”

“Almost a decade after the approval of the environmentally damaging Trump International Golf Links in Aberdeenshire, it is unthinkable that we could lose yet another irreplaceable duneland to a development which is clearly not needed.”

On the Highland Council planning website – wam.highland.gov.uk/wam/ – it states the application is “Awaiting Decision”.

Comments can be be made by searching for ‘Coul Links’ or (17/04601/FUL) and following instructions.